(1/2) First, i'll thank you for this blog! It's the first time i found a writing blog who talks about the dificulties of writing from a mentally ill person's perspective (i'm depressed as hell all the time, and none of the usual tips helped me at all), so, have in mind i really apreciate your work!
(2/2) 2nd, i would love to hear what you have to say about working on longer projects. None of mine can pass the planning stage, mostly because i find really hard to rethink my own ideas.Once i have one, i can’t challenge it, as they become so ingrained in my mind. Since longer works takes a lot of rethinking and brainstorming, i always reach a point in which my work becomes too solid, too deviated of the original idea, and i lose motivation. Taking a break from the project doesn’t work either.
First of all, you’re welcome! I’m always so glad to hear someone’s getting something out of this blog.
Your problem is actually something that happens to me too…or at least something similar happens to me. I’ll write a few thousand words, then get stuck, realize something earlier needs to be reworked, but then instead of going back and actually reworking it, I’ll just polish the beginning endlessly and never end up moving forward.
Depression may actually have something to do with this. I was reading recently that depression tends to make people especially unwilling to take chances or risks because they anticipate failure so vividly. This then becomes a self-perpetuating cycle because they limit their experiences and opportunities to succeed at things and just get more depressed and less willing to take chances. This is a particular bummer for depressed writers, since writing involves an element of play, of experimentation, and thus requires us to take chances. So, that rigidity you experience might be a consequence of depression. I can’t swear to this cuz I’m not a psychologist, but for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure it’s true for me.
And this doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it! I’m going to give you an exercise to try. Think of it as a way to stretch your creative muscles. Take a story you’ve written, old or new, and pick a turning point in the plot (major or minor). Now imagine the most outlandishly different way that turning point could have gone. It doesn’t need to make much sense; it can be “and then aliens landed.” Now sketch out how the story might go from there. Play it straight, even if your new turning point is kinda out there. No matter how bizarre it is, that’s just what happened, and matters must now proceed from there.
Another similar exercise you can try is simply to take a story, old or new, and re-plot it with one major element completely changed. Take out or add in a major character. Set it somewhere different. Change a major event in the backstory. Whatever, as long as the change is big.
Basically I’m encouraging you to experiment with making big, huge, wild changes to your story, or at least to sketch them in and imagine how they’d play out. Once you’ve loosened your brain-muscles a bit, you can start to think about the more moderately scaled changes you might make to an existing work in progress.
If you try this, let me know how it goes! I might give it a go myself!